Tomorrow, please do not come I don’t need you Wherever you go in your idle hours To plan our joys and sorrows Linger there Today is all I want
Look at your belly Whether hole or fleshy hill You have a mother
Most wade in, ankle deep and no further. I went crashing Past those who ventured up to their knees, freestyle On gall’s impulsive course Far beyond the drowners, I gave out and rolled On my back like a slick otter about to crack a mollusk I searched the sky for a lodestar. I did not recognize heaven. All the jewels were falling One after the other Bright, final moments. Cold and shriveled, I slithered to bitter ground Capitulant among prudent ankles.
It is wise to set aside money for emergencies and your retirement. Just as it is wise to set aside one bullet for yourself if the emergency is more than you can handle or retirement is impossible. Who wants to have a job until they drop dead? Who wants a job at all? I would rather not have my morning coffee in rush hour traffic or at a desk while reading the daily headlines in procrastination of opening that dreaded inbox where trouble lurks like a cancer in your bowels waiting for the day when you are too old to fight back. I have witnessed growing old and feeble firsthand. I don’t recommend it; cancer always wins. I would prefer my first cup of Joe on a porch that looks out on a beach welcoming the Atlantic like an old friend who travels the world while the sand, shells and sea oats wait patiently for his return with stories of foreign lands. The prevailing sound is the enduring surf and the tireless desire of the sea to reunite with land. The soft crash of the of waves counterpoints the shrill cry of a gull and the tubular chatter of wind chimes played by a gentle breeze that carries the faint taste of salt and nori and the rain collecting in the menacing clouds forming like a fleet of gray warships on the horizon. They are too far away to worry about, though, they may sail off to sea. Perhaps the gentle breeze will blow the crisis away. I will help by blowing on the hot, black surface of my coffee steaming in the cup. In coastal towns, everyone knows you cannot make coffee using the local tap water. The salinity will give it an off taste; keep bottled spring water handy. It is wise to stock up on potable water, anyway. Especially if you are living beside the ocean with the unpredictable tempests that take advantage of her generous currents and temperatures to ride on her back all over the globe for free looking for trouble. Stock up on coffee while you are at it, although it is unwise to weather a hurricane unless you have a bullet set aside when the emergency gets out of hand.
Ah…Springtide. Tis April 13 and the birthday of England’s infamous would-be assassin, Guy Fawkes. That is spelled with an “awkes” because nothing can ever be easy around here. Happy Birthday, Guy! What should we do to celebrate? Shall we blow something up with gunpowder or is that too cliche?
Sometimes following tradition is the only thing one can do. You can’t always think up something exciting and new. It is a lot easier putting up a Christmas tree than researching an ancient Winter festival of pagan culture and convincing the family to sacrifice one of your own before a roaring bonfire in order to please the Gods of Hunt and Harvest.
My mother once tried roast goose instead of the regular Butterball for Christmas dinner. Waterfowl produces so much more fat, what a mess, and all dark meat, to boot. So much for a Boxing Day turkey sandwich. See what happens when established practice unravels?
Murdering your fellow countrymen as a means of social change is not really a break with English tradition but you could argue that the birthday boy’s plan was a radical departure from quietly poisoning your first cousin to advance your career.
What do you suppose Mr. Fawkes would have done had he been successful and the royal family had all gone up in smoke, scraps and jewelry? Being British, he likely would have carried on in the same way England had done for years prior since “carrying on” is what the Brits do and that was all or most of what Fawkes knew.
I am speculating, of course, my knowledge of British history is scant and I hate doing research, but I would be willing to bet Guy would have installed himself as some sort of “New” king. Then there would have been a civil war between Fawkes’ Catholics and the Protestants loyal to the old crown; he couldn’t have executed all them with one blast.
And there you have it: a break with tradition would have led to calamity that served as an impetus to return to tradition. That is, if Guy Fawkes had succeeded. Well, happy birthday to you old boy. At least you gave it a shot. Most people do not. If it is any consolation, remember the British still celebrate Guy Fawkes Night every November because it is a tradition and no one celebrates King James I day.
I once believed that I would meet my end on a bleak afternoon in November a few weeks after my birthday. The sky would be pale gray, shimmering with the promise of rain, smelling like the ocean before a squall, like a fresh oyster nude … Continue reading Oysters and Eternity
Risk, the classic board game of world conquest. The secret to winning is to occupy Australia first as players begin to place their armies. The less experienced invariably chose more colorful locations like England and Egypt but those mythical lands are vulnerable to foreign attack whereas Australia is the only isolated territory on the board. Launch your invasions from the land down under and victory will be yours. As it is true in history, it is true in Risk, Ukraine is a terrible place to find yourself defending. Like wind off the steppe, alien hordes periodically sweep across Ukraine’s fertile plains, stopping long enough to gorge themselves on her ample wheat before steamrolling West to plunder the Gold. If you are lucky enough to be hundreds of miles away from the current upheaval, my advice is to stock up on staples: dried beans, rice, coffee, bottled water and wine before the prices get too high or there is simply nothing on the shelves. Hunker down in your own private Australia for a while and work on that project that has been collecting dust because you have been too busy binge watching reality shows. That novel isn’t going to finish itself. Who is going to pluck the right phrases out of the air and assemble them into poems if not you? Tàpies did not have a staff of brush monkeys to do the work for him. Ravel did not own a synthesizer. When the fighting stops and the world returns to whatever we accept as normalcy you will be ready to strike from your isolation and be triumphant.
Imagine if Bartok had given up on symphonies, quartets and concertos and focused on composing Please-Hold music for corporations to be performed while their customers waited for the next available Service Technician or loops to set the mood of a podcast, a DIY video on YouTube, a TikTok nothing. Had the maestro owned a copy of Ableton Live or Bitwig, what influence would he have had on producers of dance and trance scores? Ponder a dance in 5/4. Art is a difficult subject and yet it is not avoided at parties like religion or politics. I have never known of fisticuffs and dissolved friendships brought about by a disagreement over Bob Ross versus Picasso or Led Zepplin versus Tupac. If you have a soft spot for 80’s New Wave, no one really minds too much. People usually indulge your passion and nod and smile politely while you go on and on about the sound of an analog Moog synth. Bartok would have enjoyed Moog’s laboratory. He might even have been added to the product development team. That is a lucrative iron in fire for a song-slinger between gigs. Bela was never too flush. Art is a difficult path.
On the subject of music, please be sure and visit my music page. After all, you are already here: https://johntruelove.com/music-sweet-music/
The Season’s visage wears a scowl.
Cold smoke moves on specter toes.
Join the lonely wind in howl,
Chant the words in Winter’s prose.
It has been a long, cold winter but the worst has passed. February brings milder temperatures to South Texas. The only sign of the old frigid man is yellow grass, some bare tree branches and pruned crape myrtles. A sense of season is easily confused. Landscapes surrounding office buildings and cul de sacs alike are planted with invasive, perennials of implacable green. The display of chocolate hearts is replaced by chocolate rabbits beside a sale for sunscreen. The new line of patio furniture relaxes in cool umbrella shade, inviting a shopper to sit and consider the sale price on the laminated tag. Everyone should own a grill at least once in their life but no one really needs a leaf blower. Did Washington and Lincoln believe in one nation under God with liberty and justice and 30% off for all? Wait! Don’t buy that, put it back on the shelf. Save your money for a weekend getaway to Port Aransas. The seashore is enticing but beware the Ides of March and the college students who storm the beach in amphibious assaults like drunken Marines. Spring loves to tease but she is just around the corner. Open a bottle of wine and listen to Carmina Burana. You may have to turn the stereo up loud to be heard above the mating call of leaf blowers.
There are some people who look forward to winter. This type of cold weather folk can’t wait for the first report of powdery snow on their favorite slope so they can dress in thermal finery and ascend a mountain where, once at the summit, strap 2x4s to there frozen feet and hurl themselves off risking broken bones and frostbite. The roaring fire and a tankard of IPA in the lodge are the perfect end to a thrilling day of cheating death. In my past, ski resorts were a great gig for a cover band, good money and dinner show hours. But it was always cold and, since I consider anything below 60 F freezing, I never looked forward to Vermont in January. When I lived in New York, I could tolerate winter only because inclement weather was an excuse to stay inside and I could dry my towels on the radiator.
Now that I live within spitting distance of Mexico, I can’t complain about frigid weather too much or use it as justification for being lazy. Except when it is really, really frigid. When the mercury plummets to 18 F and icy precipitation creates a clear candy shell on sidewalks and statues in the Northeast people shrug it off as another nasty day. In the South, those conditions create a sort of surreal pandemonium. You may recall one such day in 2021 when an arctic blast shut Houston down for a week and Gulf beaches were polluted with the carcasses of sea life. It was almost Biblical.
Here is one man’s account in verse form:
Twenty pelicans sail by in jagged formation. The beach is lead and mist. Wind whips the crispy, brown fronds of tropical transplants; victims of the big freeze. Just like the fish that washed ashore to ferment On the sand stinking surströmming. A feast for gulls who turn up their snobbish beaks Preferring purloined corn chips and french fries. The grackles laugh. They are amused by everything: Death Pelicans struggling against a squall Broken glass in a hopping man’s bare foot I get the joke, too. Fish don’t wear sweaters Idiots don’t wear shoes And palms should not wander too far North of Bogotá. But laughing at a pelican is just plain cruel.